What do you get when you take a somewhat disgruntled, experienced police detective, a volatile Central European country teetering on the brink of political disaster, a brutal crime, and hints of corruption? Jonathan Rabb's novel Rosa indeed has the classic elements of a noir mystery, and successfully weaves them into the tapestry of pre-Weimar Germany. Detective Nikolai Hoffner is at once unique and standard, a no-nonsense policeman with his own deep character faults who can nonetheless be counted upon to do the right thing. Though he alternately comes across as a cardboard cutout and as a fully fleshed character, he is sufficiently interesting and complex to continually drive the story forward. So it is with the plot, divided into two main halves but placed within the scope of plausible- if slightly unlikely- historical fact. The story combines glimpses into Hoffner's personal life and past with a cascade of discoveries that reveal a much more complex case than either the main characters or the reader initially assumed. Though there is little that is surprising within Rosa, it boasts a strong cast of supporting characters and a nice mid-story plot twist that adds depth and historical interest along with a hint of originality that sets this book apart. Though Rabb easily falls into the historical cameo trap, involving unsavory characters from the future Nazi Germany as well as- somewhat less plausibly- Albert Einstein, he knows his stuff, and convincingly portrays postwar Berlin with the assistance of a strong supporting cast. While there is nothing to particularly recommend the prose, Rabb is efficient and effective at revealing details and maintaining suspense without wielding too much authorial dictatorship. Regardless, the book is tightly plotted, and Rabb should be commended for refusing to allow too many gotcha moments- everything fits together neatly, but appropriately, without undue editorial wrangling. Sure, the scope gets a bit out of hand at times, but can one really erase knowledge of Germany's near future? The book manages to posit an alternate history without vitally altering anything of paramount significance, and gains some thematic depth and historical resonance in the process. Ultimately, Rosa hits all the right notes and creates a convincing scene and story, satisfactory to mystery fans and historians alike.